Turner Classic Movie – Happy 20th!
I would like to wish a happy 20th birthday to one of my dear friends: Turner Classic Movies. OK, so perhaps the term “friend” is a bit intimate for a non-living entity, especially an entity such as a television station. But Turner Classic Movies has functioned as something more than just a television station in my life – it was my very first film class with Robert Osborne acting as my professor.
The Classiest 20-year old I ever met.
You see, from my early teens I knew I wanted to do something creative with my life. And by 9th grade I decided that this creative outlet was going to be film. Like most people, I loved movies since childhood. They acted as entertainment, as escape, and as education all in one. How could I not want to go into such a diverse medium? It was also around this time that my love for classic films began growing from just a mere interest to a deep adoration. I wanted to know everything and more about the history, structure, and culture that revolved around classic movies. And what better place to learn this from than a station called Turner Classic Movies? So, I began tuning into the station fairly frequently to sate this craving. However, my cravings grew on, and before I knew it, I was watching almost two films a day. To put it simply, I was passionately and manically obsessed. From the stars, to the directors, to the studio system that built them — I needed to know every detail, myth, and stigma that surrounded the world of classic film. With a high school that offered no film classes and a town that didn’t necessarily prioritize culture, I had nowhere to look but to TCM.
Night after night I would sit in awe at those magnificent creatures on the screen, acting in a world so glamorous, so different, and so much more beautiful than my own. Most of the time I wasn’t even sure what was airing; I just sat there and watched the TV. And yet, I was always informed because with every movie I watched, I got an introduction from Robert Osborne. Without fail, if I was watching TCM primetime, he would always tell me the director, the year, and a fun little anecdote, fact or theory surrounding the film. Along with an education in classic films, Turner Classic Movies also introduced to me movies outside of the Hollywood system. Every Sunday night at 2AM I would park myself in front of the TV to watch TCM Imports. Although I was basically a zombie at school the next day, it didn’t matter. From Bergman to Ozu, from Fellini to Tarkovsky, I was able to learn about directors and films that I would not have had access to otherwise — and that was worth losing all of the sleep in the world.
Without TCM, I probably never would have learned about great Hollywood directors such as Billy Wilder, George Cukor, or William Wyler. Without TCM I never would have seen The 400 Blows, Red Dessert, or Rashomon. Sure, the movies were out on DVD and available for the world to see, but it was TCM that introduced them to me. The way I see it, Turner Classic Movies was my Introduction to Cinema Studies class and Robert Osborne was my trusted Professor long before I ever went to Film School. So, Happy 20th Birthday TCM because without you, I probably never would have gone to film school. And if you have any TCM-related stories, antidotes, or birthday wishes, please feel free to share them with me in the comments section. I would love to hear how TCM influenced your life as a classic movie fan.
Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub